Officer who fatally shot Texas teen saved lives, his lawyer says

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 12, 2015 3:59 PM

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - The white, Dallas-area police officer fired over his actions in the fatal shooting last week of an unarmed black teenager was dismissed by a pliant police chief trying to prevent a backlash over the killing, the former officer's lawyer said on Wednesday.

Former Arlington police officer Brad Miller, a 49-year-old trainee, was fired for what the department said was his poor judgment in events surrounding the shooting of Christian Taylor, a 19-year-old college football player at Angelo State University, Police Chief Will Johnson told reporters on Tuesday.

The case was the latest in a series of incidents in which white officers have fatally shot unarmed racial minorities, raising questions of racial bias in policing.

"Chief Johnson used 20/20 hindsight to protect his job and appease anti-police activists. Officer Miller made decisions in the heat of a violent confrontation to save his and other officers' lives," John Snider, a lawyer for Miller, said in a statement.

Snider said the police chief bowed to pressure from community activists and denied his client due process by rushing through a four-day administrative investigation.

On Tuesday, Johnson said Miller made a series of bad decisions in communicating with fellow officers and initially approaching Taylor on his own without a plan for arrest.

Miller, who was undergoing training with the department, fired four rounds at Taylor, who died from gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen, according to the medical examiner.

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There were five other officers on scene, including the training officer for Miller, Corporal Dale Wiggins, who tried to use a Taser to subdue the suspect, Johnson said.

Scores of people gathered outside Arlington Police headquarters on Tuesday night and demanded criminal charges be brought against Miller.

Johnson has said investigators would prepare a criminal case in the matter for prosecutors to present to a grand jury, which can decide whether to charge Miller.

(Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Eric Walsh)